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Team India – Vision for Tribal’s RAAM

As children, the brothers never thought they would be attempting the world’s toughest bicycle race one day and represent India as Team India Vision for Tribal’s RAA 2015. In spite of winning a few races during their school days, attempting  RAAM was something this doctor duo from Nashik had not really considered. Today ‘the Mahajan brothers’ (Hitendra and Mahendra) will be the third Indian team to attempt to conquer the transcontinental race.

The brothers will be representing India at Race Across America (RAAM) 2015, where they will be cycling as a ‘Team of two’ from (West coast) Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland near New York (East coast). The race will be flagged off on 20th June 2015, spanning 12 states of the USA, it includes the hot desert of Arizona, the snow-clad Rockies in Colorado, the Kansas plateau, as well as the steep Appalachian’s mountains.

Conducted since the past 34 years, RAAM is considered the ultimate test by the world’s top endurance cyclist. The Mahajan’s tells us that there are people who have tamed Mt. Everest and completed RAAM. However, when asked to pick the tougher one, the answer is undoubtedly RAAM. As a team of two, where Team India Vision for Tribal’s RAAM are required to cover a distance of about 550 to 600 kms every day (day-night taking turns to ride 24 hours) to be able to finish the race in nine days.

Training for Team India Vision for Tribal’s RAAM takes up much of their day, leaving little time to manage their medical practice. And while their families have been supportive and incredibly proud of their achievements, they often complain of being unable to spend sufficient quality time as a family. The duo acknowledge that this is one of the biggest sacrifices they along with the many other contestants will be making in order to tame RAAM.

After qualifying for RAAM last year, at “the Deccan cliffhanger” organized by Inspire India where the participants were required to complete 644 km in 32 hours, they became the 6th & 7th RAAM qualifier out of the total of 10 riders from the whole of India. Being able to go to America will need a lot of money and logistical planning.

Team India Vision for Tribal’s RAAM will require hiring 3 backup support vehicles and a total of 12 crew members taking turns and helping the riders to ride day and night.

Their Team India Vision for Tribal’s RAAM includes Dr Suneel Vartak as Crew chief who has led several Himalayan expeditions, Dr. Rajendra Nehete, Dr Ramakant Patil , Dr Milind Pimprikar, Dr Sham Chaudhari, Dr Sachin Gujar from USA, Dr Sandeep Shewale and Dr Amol Tambe from UK, Coach Miten Thakker, Pankaj Marlesha and Kishor Kale as cycle technical experts, as well as Mohinder Singh and Milind Walekar who are also experienced cyclists.

Coach Miten Thakker a UK certified coach has been rigorously training the duo since the past one year while Meghana Surve, a senior dietician has been meticulously planning a diet for the brothers to be followed during training and for RAAM. Pankaj Marlesha has helped them procure bikes at a concession.

This close-knit team has been there for them right from the start. Dr Sharad Patil, Chairman of Kalpataru foundation, an NGO along with his team of Ophthalmologists and Jagdish Shastri would be performing eye surgeries on some less fortunate tribals FREE of cost.

To race across America, they will need an amount of 50 lakh which includes air tickets for the entire team, their stay, new bikes, hiring 3 support vehicles and other essential expenses for a span of 19 -20 days.

The Vision for tribal’s team would be reaching Oceanside, 10 days prior for several meetings with RAAM officials i.e riders meet, crew meet, crew chief meet, media meet, vehicle and bike inspection, signing waiver forms etc & also importantly getting acclimatized to weather. Besides, they would also carry out some training rides that can help them all sync in the RAAM feeling.

To manage the finance they have collaborated with Kalpataru foundation which they run along with other doctors. The foundation which is designed to improve vision for tribals will help them treat 248 cataracts by cycling 4800 km. These operations will be performed by the doctors at Kalpataru to the patients at zero cost.

The doctors leave a message for the youngsters, “there is nothing in this world that is difficult” they say. Four years ago, when they sat on the cycle and rode to Trimbak it was a big achievement for the both of them, they recall, but the aftermath didn’t allow them to get up for the next four days. It didn’t stop them. They believe and live by the saying ‘practice makes a man perfect.’

This attempt to represent India at the international level has got them a lot of love from numerous Nashik families. The doctors not only want to be the first Indian to cross the line within the time limit but also desire to break the world record. To help the doctors financially, all you have to do is donate an amount to the kalpataru foundation.
So let us do our part and donate some much-needed support while we wait for them to make our country proud.

Social Media

You can reach out to them on their Facebook page by clicking here.
Details of the entire project can also be found on the foundation website by clicking here.
Details of RAAM can be viewed by clicking here.

Registration of the teams that will be participating in RAAM can be viewed by clicking here.

Contact details:
9423972452 – Dr. Hitendra Mahajan ( Participant and member of Kalpataru foundation)
9422270847 – Dr. Mahendra Mahajan( Participant and member of Kalpataru foundation)
9822058671 – Dr. Sharad Patil ( Chairman, Kalpataru Foundation)They can also be contacted on their email address: kalpatarufoundation@gmail.com. Promotional Video-
a) Click here to see the English version
b) Click here to see the Marathi versionIf you would like to fund this duo the Bank Details mentioned below should guide the process:

Account Name –“ KALPATARU FOUNDATION”
Bank Of Maharashtra, NBT Law College Campus, College road, Nashik -422014.
A/c. No. 60131756040
Branch no. – 00214
IFSC Code – MAHB0000214.
MICR CODE -422014005

Courtesy: Special thanks to Dr.  Mahendra Mahajan and Hitendra Mahajan

Editor: Tracy Alvares

Written By

Abhishek Tarfe is a Certified Bike Mechanic from Park Tool School. He enjoys teaching people how to cycle and loves going on multi-day tours. Besides, he loves dogs and coffee. Follow his madness on Instagram

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